Marcus Mariota active in much-anticipated return; Titans' offense struggles

From ESPN - August 12, 2017

Mike Mularkey wanted his franchise quarterback to get his blood flowing from Play 1 of the Tennessee Titans' preseason opener Saturday. So he called for Marcus Mariota to use his legs and roll out to his right on play-action. Mariota outraced charging New York Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson to the right sideline, then fired a 15-yard bullet pass to Rishard Matthews for a completion.

And with that, Mariota was officially back. In his first game since suffering a broken right leg last Christmas Eve, Mariota did a little bit of everything to knock the cobwebs off Saturday. He used his legs to scramble and move around the pocket, and he took his first hit, bouncing back up quickly.

"It felt great," Mariota told the Titans' team website about his return. "A lot of hard work was put into it, and I am very blessed for the opportunity. It was just a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the opportunity I had."

Added Mularkey on Mariota's performance: "I was pretty pleased with him."

The Titans' offense struggled a lot more than it would have liked in a 7-3 loss to the Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Titans' most important takeaway, however, was Mariota's two drives in which he looked like the same quarterback he has been for much of his career.

"It was OK, but I did not think it was good enough," said Mariota, who's set to enter his third season. Mularkey agreed.

Mariota finished 2-of-3 for 15 passing yards. He also had one rush for 6 yards and took one solid sack from Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The pass to Matthews was Mariota's best of his brief, nine-play appearance, and his legs appeared to be just as healthy as his arm.

QB depth chart: Mariota is healthy and ready to go as the starting quarterback, but most of Saturday's action went to 29-year-old Alex Tanney. The Titans' backup-QB competition has some intrigue because Tanney is out of practice-squad eligibility, meaning the team will have to keep him and Matt Cassel on the active roster or choose between them. Tanney showed toughness, taking a shot in the mouth on his first play, but turnovers, sacks and incompletions defined his night. Tanney finished 11-of-27 for 132 passing yards, 1 interception, 1 fumble and 7 sacks.


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